The Covid-19 pandemic has overshadowed so much since it appeared back in the Late Winter/Early Spring 2020. All of the issues prevalent before the onset of the pandemic still exist. One of those issues is the Opioid Crisis. Opioid use impacts the brain and changes brain chemistry. Opioid Use Disorder is a chronic disease of the brain. For a person who has an opioid use disorder, their brain has become dependent on the drug just to function. When they cannot obtain the drug, their body becomes dopesick so they will go to extremes to avoid becoming physically ill. Overdoses and overdose fatalities can and do occur. Effective treatment for opioid use disorders needs to assist the brain in healing disrupted and damaged neurological connections in the brain to be effective and to help the person effectively withdraw from the drug. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is part of “whole person treatment” that involves the use of medication along with counseling and other behavioral health therapies to treat substance use disorders — primarily opioid use disorder — and to prevent relapse and possible overdose. By helping to reduce the cravings and pain from withdrawal, people using MAT can stop constantly thinking about the drug, allowing them to focus on their recovery and to return to a healthy lifestyle. Stigma that is often associated with substance use disorders, driven by perceptions that they are moral failings rather than chronic diseases, can keep people from seeking treatment.
The whole person approach to opioid use disorders is available at the Eastern Shore Community Services Board’s Outpatient Services. ESCSB offers substance use disorder treatments. MAT is part of the treatment for opioid use disorders. The Substance Abuse Services department is staffed by a Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) waivered Nurse Practitioner, an Adult Consulting Psychiatrist, Clinicians, Case Managers and full-time Peer Specialists. The Psychiatrist will normally provide an initial psychiatric evaluation and follow-up medication management visits when medications are prescribed. Peer Specialists, Clinicians and Case Manager help the patient navigate their recovery. For more information on the treatment of Substance Use Disorders and other behavioral health issues, please contact the Eastern Shore Community Services Board’s Outpatient Services at 757-665-1260 or at www.escsb.org.